Why Short Books are (Usually) Better Than Long Books

one long book of mine is of equal height to three short, equally enjoyable books combined, (and keep in mind that Gregor the Overlander has like, twelve words on each page.

Short books vs long books? I say short. This question has been debated since the dawn of time itself, or at least five minutes ago when I thought of this idea for a post. That being said, short books are cooler. Short books are to long books as name brand is to generic (but not really).

Reason #1: You can always assume short books are well edited.

While I still enjoy many long books, it’s a given that many of them are in desperate need of an editor. J. R. R. Tolkien filled his books with hundreds of long descriptions, unpronounceable names, and subplots which admittedly enhanced the world of Middle earth, but it had little to do with the story. Short books rarely have this problem. When you only have two hundred or so pages to write a story, you are not going to waste time dwelling on a minor character’s water bottle collection, no matter how cool that sounds. What do Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gregor the Overlander have in common? They’re all straight to the point. Each scene serves a higher purpose: not a line seems out of place. I wish I could say the same about Salem’s Lot by Stephen King, where there’s a six page description of the weather that made me cry tears of boredom.

Reason #2: You’re not chained down to just one book for a long period of time.

For those afraid of commitment, this is the perfect book length for you. I envy those who could read more than one book at a time. When I try to do that I end up favoring one book over the other and the other poor book is forgotten and left to collect dust in my bookcase, hoping I’ll come back and read it again (I’m looking at you, Inkspell,by Cornelia Funke.)

With short books, you don’t have to worry about this. Since each book is probably around three hundred pages, even if you do favor one book over the other, by the time you finish it you’ll still remember everything about the other one. Meanwhile, if you were to ditch a book for, say, A Song of Ice and Fire, by the time you’re done you’ll have forgotten the book even existed.

Reason #3: If you drop a short book on your foot, it doesn’t hurt.

My hardcover edition of The Stand shown above would probably crush it, and then put a hole through your floor.

Reason #4: You can take short books everywhere you go.

This is especially true for paperback books. I can actually fit The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in my pocket, so whenever I’m bored I just take it out like its my phone and start reading. Also, the look on someone’s face when you pull a book out of your pocket is priceless.

Roy: “But now that we have eBooks, a book of a thousand pages can still fit in the palm of my hand. So your last two reasons were irrelevant.”

Shut up, Roy. No one asked you.

Reason #5: Long books are too mainstream.

I’m not a hipster. I briefly joined a group of hipsters, but they all tragically died of third degree burns, after drinking their coffee before it was cool. That was when I realized that being a hipster was bad for your health, so I stopped dressing ironically and became a blogger instead.

But seriously, short books are ridiculously underrated. It seems like 75% of best selling books today are long. People seem to think that a longer book means a better read, but it doesn’t. Quality over quantity, people.

Strangely enough, the next three books I plan to read are The Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens (446 pages in my edition), Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King (896 pages) and A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin (864 pages). I am a hypocrite.


9 thoughts on “Why Short Books are (Usually) Better Than Long Books

  1. Pffft, Gregor the Overlander having twelve words a page. Yes. Yes, it certainly feels like that.
    Good post! I agree with all your reasons and look forward to seeing your opinions of A Game of Thrones. Even if you know the MAJOR ENDING SPOILER, it’s still a fantastic read. The writing is beautiful.

    1. Are you talking about Ned? I watched the first season of the show, (which was great, but it was hard to keep track of all the characters and their motives) and his death was probably the most shocking death I’ve seen on TV. I figured he’d get out of it somehow, seeing how he was the main character, I thought.

      Since my HBO subscription was canceled when I was two episodes into season/book 2, I now have no choice but to read the books. I can’t wait till the third book, because after an episode of Game of Thrones season 3, everyone I knew who watched the show were talking nonstop about three major character deaths. Luckily I’ve managed to avoid who they were. As long as Arya and Tyrion survive, I’ll be okay.

      1. Yep. I love that Martin isn’t afraid to kill his characters. Keeps me on my toes, you know?
        Ned is great. He’s such a loveable idiot – I mean, his sense of honor is great, but it makes him do the stupidest things. Don’t trust your enemies, dude!

        Heheheh, I was spoiled for that too. The Red Wedding. It was all over the Internet the morning after and I was like, “NOOOOO! I’m not that far yet!”

      2. I love (and hate) how Ned told Cersei he knew about her and Jaime’s very very close relationship right away, and then of course never told Robbert. At least he was smart enough to make sure Arya got some sword lessons before he died.

        My social studies teacher told me how she was crying hysterically during that episode, and how she could barely sleep afterwards. And a couple of my GoT friends were depressed for a couple days. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to have my heart broken before.

    1. I actually loved what I read of Inkspell (I was more than halfway done with it), but then someone gave me three Stephen King books as a present, who I was obsessed with at the time, and I just forgot about it.

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